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Wednesday, September 14th, 2011

Volume 10, Issue 31; September 14, 2011

The Playing Field

Identifying & Encouraging Tech Talent in Asia

Abroad Perspectives

International students react to UK riots.

Over The Counter

Fight it out at home or fly overseas: In the animal education kingdom, it’s a battle of the fittest.

Globe Tipping

Frequent flier tips for all frequent flier levels, Part II

1) THE PLAYING FIELD – Identifying & Encouraging Tech Talent in Asia

The race is on, in Asia – to identify, encourage, and mentor talented tech graduates.

In China, this comes in the form of more than 150 startup ‘incubators’, aimed at funding start-ups launched by Chinese students who have, specifically, studied abroad. Why only those who have studied abroad? Because it turns out that not only are the majority of China’s most successful tech firms started by Chinese students with overseas educations (including 80% off all Nasdaq-listed Chinese high-tech enterprises, according to the China Daily), but the country is also facing a shortage in the number of foreign-educated students who are actually returning home post-graduation.

Through offering these incentives for foreign-graduated students to move back home, it is hoped that more students will return to start up tech companies – consequently earning China more profit and prestige in the industry.

Meanwhile, in India, the focus is on mentoring. Some companies, like Direct-i Internet Solutions, have launched case study ‘contests’ for management graduates. Through these competitions, the company is able to gain access to some of the top students, and mentor them as they prepare to enter the work force.

“When people can’t find the quality workforce with specialized skills,” explains Direct-i founder and CEO, Bhavin Turakhia, “it is then that they collaborate with academics to bridge the demand-supply gap. Corporate-academia associations help ensure that the students stay up-to-date with the industry requirements and be job-ready.”

Other IT companies currently collaborating with select Indian universities – ie: directly mentoring colleges graduates and faculty members with the purpose of tapping talent early – include Infosys Technologies, Wipro Technologies, Microsoft, IBM, Google, Hewlett-Packard, and Ericsson, among a growing number of others.

Sources: “China Has 150 Start-up Incubators Just for Returning Study-Abroad Students”. Penn-Olson, August 24, 2011. http://www.penn-olson.com/2011/08/24/china-150-start-up-incubators/
& “Tech Companies see value in mentoring B-School grads”. Business Standard, August 25, 2011. http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/tech-companies-see-value-in-mentoring-b-school-grads/446902/

2) ABROAD PERSPECTIVES – International students react to UK riots.

Dav Wait Ting is an international student from Hong Kong, studying in London, UK. In a recent interview with The Guardian newspaper, she gave her impressions on last month’s riots and violence, which engulfed her chosen study location. Although acknowledging the various complex factors leading to the events, she compared perceived attitudes behind the situation to that in her own country, asserting that “Chinese values do not support this type of behaviour”, and that even though authority itself may not be always respected in China, “people do obey authority and respect the value of authority”.

Meanwhile, the recorded mugging of an injured Malaysian student, senseless destruction and widespread looting which took place throughout the riots had many other international students drawing their own conclusions based on other homelands around the world.

Obayd Ali, a Kashmiri student at Cambridge University, commented that he was not surprised at the clashes between youths and the police, though was shocked at the “level of moral degradation and looting”, which “would definitely not happen in India”. If socio-economic tensions erupted in India, he said, “they would attack the authorities – but not each other; not society as a whole”.

Although many international students remain shocked, and/or in stark disagreement with many of the events that took place, there is still good news for the UK higher education world – in that, for the majority, their reactions don’t seem to be strong enough to deter them from studying in the country.

Indeed, the president of the National Union of Students, Liam Burns, says there is no evidence to indicate any long-term effects on higher education – and even the Malaysian deputy high commissioner is convinced that Malaysian students will be undeterred by the incident against one of their own; “[F]or them, having a place at a UK university is an achievement”.

Source: “Riots unlikely to deter international students from UK”. The Guardian, September 7, 2011. http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/mortarboard/2011/sep/07/riots-wont-deter-international-students

3) OVER THE COUNTER – Fight it out at home or fly overseas: In the animal education kingdom, it’s a battle of the fittest.

At most universities across North America, it is a generally accepted fact that getting accepted into a veterinarian program is far harder than getting into a medical program. And considering the comparatively small number of programs available, as well as the competition for entrance, it doesn’t look like this fact will be changing any time soon. Therefore, it only makes sense why a growing number of students are now looking overseas in order to compete.

Caeley Thacker with her BSc in Biology from the University of Victoria, and years of related work experience both in Canada and abroad, says she still found applying to vet schools a daunting task.

“When I phoned a couple of universities in Canada, I was told there was a certain quota for regional students, and then past that I would likely be in competition with all the international candidates. So unless I had absolutely ‘superstar’ grades, they told me it was unlikely I’d get in.”

Although she still applied to a couple of North American vet med programs, Caeley decided to turn her attention overseas as well – applying to a few of the handful of schools actually acknowledged by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). In the end, she chose from offers at schools in the Caribbean, Australia, and – the winner of her final decision, based on price – New Zealand. Although she says there are quite a few international students at the island nation’s Massey University, it is also highly competitive, with most still having to survive a highly stressful elimination semester.

“I was lucky – in my first year, only seven of us got direct entry,” she explains. “There were around 350 to 400 other students in the pre-year selection class, and less than 100 of those students were then allowed to continued.”

But course availability and money aren’t the only reasons veterinary students are flocking overseas.

In India, for example, vet med programs are attracting a growing number of foreign scholars. Offering students a chance to gain specialized experience in dealing with a variety of tropical diseases, institutes like the Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Sciences University are gaining in international recognition.

“We have the country’s only small animal orthopedics and ophthalmology units in our university,” explains its Vice Chancellor, R Prabhakaran. “Since we are dealing with rarest of rare cases, foreign universities approach us for exchange programs.”

Most of these students come to do shorter term sabbatical studies or exchange programs, mainly studying tropical diseases. This year alone the university has already hosted a handful of students from various US and Malaysian universities, including Virginia Tech and the University of Michigan, and more are scheduled to arrive from both Indonesia and the University of Chittagong in Bangladesh throughout the fall.

Source: “India attracting overseas Vet students”. IBN Live News, July 29, 2011. http://ibnlive.in.com/generalnewsfeed/news/india-attracting-overseas-vet-students/769244.html

4) GLOBE TIPPING – Frequent flier tips for all frequent flier levels, Part II

Continued from last week’s installment… Even if you aren’t one of those travel warriors who spend as much time out on the road as they do at home, here are some tips to get some of the same travel perks they do – without having to rack up all those thousands of ‘frequent flier’ miles!

5. Finding award seats on partner airlines. What’s the best way to redeem extra miles in your account? Do the homework first, as the process can be complicated. Star Alliance, for example, has a secret backend tool (http://www.airfarewatchdog.com/blog/7986350/frequent-flyer-hack-finding-award-travel-on-star-alliance-partner-airlines/) to find the award availability for you next trip. SkyTeam has its own method of searching for availability as well – sign up for Air France-KLM’s Flying Blue frequent flier program in order to search for award inventory on Delta, Air France, KLM, CSA Czech, Alitalia, Kenya Airways and other partners. Or, if you collect oneworld alliance miles through any of the member programs, you can dig through all partner award availabilities by using either the British Airways or Qantas Airways websites.

6. Shopping for bonus miles. Beyond earning a mile or so for each dollar charged to a credit card, there are a number of opportunities for earning much bigger bonus miles. Buying a Mac iBook for example, can earn you an additional 5,000 to 10,000 miles. Eyeing a $200 pair of shoes at Saks? You might earn an additional 2,400 frequent flier miles with British Airways. Each airline has their own shopping portal through which you can access (and earn through) their favourite stores – you know, the same stores you already use for your online shopping. Just make sure you click through the portal first in order to qualify for the extra points!

7. Getting award seats even when you’re told no. According to Tim Winship, editor of Frequentflier.com, the best way to ensure you can cash in on those hard-earned miles is to “Pick up the phone and call the airlines reservations center. A reservations agent can often successfully book an award trip that couldn’t be booked on the carrier’s website, using alternative routings or a mix of airlines to circumvent capacity bottlenecks. Or they can sometimes exercise their authority to bypass capacity restrictions that limit award availability. Res agents have the expertise and tools to do what you cannot do.” Although you may pay a service charge for the booking, it usually beats not flying at all.
Source: “Fly Guy: Frequent flier tips that only the pros know”. USAToday.com, June 28, 2011. http://travel.usatoday.com/experts/hobica/story/2011/06/Fly-Guy-Frequent-flier-tips-that-only-the-pros-know/48896120/1

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